Browsing Category travel

My First Glimpses of Bali, An Island for Everyone – And Some Essential Travel Tips

I write this piece while sitting on the balcony of a beautiful Balinese home, with a lush green garden, with the blooming frangipani canopying over the sunlit courtyard and its tiny temple, and with towering palm and coconut trees swaying in the distance. And as I listen to the water falling over an artistic fountain while drinking tea, I know that there is nowhere else I would want to be in this moment.

Having been in Bali for ten days, my wanderlust soul and ever-wandering eyes have experienced and seen a lot.

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I Am Going Nomadic.

 

I have given up my apartment, packed my bags, said my goodbyes, and off I go with my backpack, a pen and a notebook, and a one-way ticket to the world.

I have been in namma Bengaluru for a year now. Before that, I was in South America(SA), teaching, living, and traveling. After having been nagged by my family to return, I came back last year.

During my nine-months-long adventure in the passionate continent, I did more than I could have done in a few years. I hiked active volcanos, made friends from all over the world, learned Spanish, taught English and realized that I might have a few traits of a good teacher, stayed in a tree house, stayed with local Quechua communities on the remote islands of Peru, got mugged, held monkeys and sloths in the Amazon, night trekked to stumble into the deadliest frogs and snakes, lost myself in the Inca ruins, wandered in the fathomlessness of the Atacama desert, and struggled to get job interviews and tried to prolong my stay.

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My Love and Hate Relationship With the Colorful India – A Story and Memory Postcards

As I move onto a new journey that takes me outside India for a couple of months (watch out for a more detailed post on Monday), I couldn’t help but reminisce about the places that I have lived in and visited in the last one year I have been in India.

India — a country with distinct religions from the ancient Hindu to the declining Zoroastrianism, with a myriad of languages and dialects from Konkani to Jarawa, with a plethora of geographies from fathomless deserts to treacherous glaciers, with a vast network from modern sea links to old hanging bridges, with a wide assortment of food from homely dal roti to mouth-watering, overnight-cooked chicken biryanis, with a range of commutes from rusted Hero bicycles, serene camels, and obedient bullock carts to fancy Rolls Royces, from peaceful Tamil marriages that are held for two hours during daylight to exciting Punjabi wedding functions sprawled over many days in luxurious hotels spread across India; we have it all.

This large and miscellaneous congregation of people — that India is — sometimes makes me proud, but sometimes the restrictions of this collectivist society suffocate me.

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How to Apply for US Tourist Visa from India – The Real Process and the Broken Myths

 

Getting stuck on borders multiple times and having paid a lot of extra money for the last moment flights because I could not cross into the neighboring country without a visa, I realized that an Indian passport is not the strongest one. Though there are ways to make it stronger. A valid US tourist visa (or a US business visa) not only allows you to visit the US, but with a valid US visa you can also travel to many more countries which let you in with a “visa on arrival” or an e-visa (if a US visa is stamped on your passport). For example Peru, Colombia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Georgia, Mexico, Philippines, Turkey, and more.

To make my dream of traveling to the US and these countries come true, I just applied for a 10-year B2 US tourist visa, and, it was approved. 

Please read through the detailed process of getting a tourist visa for the USA from India. I also pledge to clear all the myths that envelope the US tourist visa process.

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9 Months and 3 Countries – Golden Highlights of My South-American Adventure

In the nine months that I was backpacking through South America (SA), I visited three countries: Chile, Peru, and Bolivia.

White roses, pink bougainvilleas, golden marigolds, and red hibiscuses bloom throughout the day in my parent’s garden, but then comes night, and the queen of the night takes over. These memories from SA waft through my being as the scent of the queen of the night drifts through my parent’s garden and settles in our wistful dreams.

Hope you enjoy these amazing memories from the time I was traveling in South America.

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Peru – In the Golden Foliage of Poetry and Pictures.

 

Oh dear friend, would you convey my message if you travel to the mystical land of the Incas.

 

photos of peru

 

Could you find that old lady who guided me to the bus and tell her that I dream of her hair as I dream about the Himalayan snow.  

Could you find that little mystery-eyed girl who would be bigger by now and whisper to her that I would come again to play the game of “donde estas” with her in her home.

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How to Score a Peru Visa on an Indian Passport – From India and South America

I traveled in Peru for a little more than a month, as the immigration officer at the Arica-Tacna (Chile-Peru) border crossing had stamped my passport with a one-time stay of thirty days, though I had a 183 days and one-year-valid Peru visa stamped on my blue passport. To get to stay a few days over a month, I had gone to the immigration office in Cusco to extend my stay. 

The immigration officer in Cusco listened to my pre-rehearsed story that elaborated how I was in love with Peru and a month to explore it was too short. He stamped my passport with more days and suggested me to request the border officer next time to allow me to stay the entire duration granted by my visa. I would have told the young immigration in charge at the Tacna border that I intended to stay for the whole period, but I was still new to long-term travel. 

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Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary – A Day in the Winged Paradise

We went on a one day drive to the Ranganathittu bird sanctuary. And I was overwhelmed by its beauty, to say the least.

I penned down my experience in a poem. After all, what is better than nature and poetry?

So here you go.

 

As we entered the sanctuary, painted storks glided above us in the clouded sky, 

and with our heads tilted towards the heavens,

we walked by the side of the muddy Kaveri,

to see flocks and flocks of white and grey birds just perched onto the canopies of the Arjuna and the Acacia on the islets.

The crisp air buzzed with their songs and shrieks,

though I couldn’t identify even one of those notes.

We gazed at the distant foliage to recognize the winged-ones,

but our eyes instead discovered three crocodiles who rested on the rocks with their powerful jaws wide open,

as if they were waiting for a fish to dive into their mouth.

Their stillness made us wonder if they were real or fake,

and then we saw one of them gracefully gliding into the coolness of the water,

alluring us to go behind him.

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How I was Mesmerized by Atacama, the Driest Desert of the World – And You Would be Too

They say that the Atacama is the driest desert, but I disagree.

 

The blue lagoons quenched my interminable thirst for beauty,

the flamingos still fly right through my dreams, 

the imposing mountains showed me how high we could reach, 

and the deep valleys let me look so beyond that I didn’t even know existed.

Come, let’s ride this journey together, 

because my friend, 

you would need someone to hold onto,

when you are not sure if what you gape at is the reality,

or it is just another dream you behold. 

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San Pedro de Atacama – A Bustling–yet–Quaint Gateway to the Driest Desert

 

Sleeping on the semi-sleeper first seat in front of the wide glass window on the second floor of the bus, which was driving from Santiago to Calama, I woke up to find ourselves driving next to the Pacific under a star-studded, deep-blue sky which was complimented by a shimmering rotund moon. Even the contour of the immortal rabbit that Ruskin Bond says was dropped on the moon was difficult to trace on the bright moon. It was like a painting.

Having admired the scenery, I dozed off again and kept waking up intermittently until we arrived in Calama. That was when I pulled myself out of hibernation and, an hour later, I was riding on another bus to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. At the end of this blended twenty-five-hour journey, I stumbled out of the bus like a zombie and the glowering February sun focused all its anger on the first-time visitor. Luckily, my hostel was a five-minute walk from the bus terminal. I strapped on my blue backpack and strode as I had loaded the directions to the hostel in Google maps.

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